KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) — Dominik Paris won the downhill in Kitzbuehel on Saturday, becoming only the second Italian skier to capture the classic World Cup race on the Streif course.
Paris came down the 3.3-kilometer course in 1 minute, 57.56 seconds to match the achievement of countryman Kristian Ghedina, who won in 1998. Paris, who won another classic race in Bormio in December, and teammate Christof Innerhofer now share four downhill victories this season, a record for the Italian team.
"Winning Kitzbuehel is even a bigger achievement (than Bormio)," Paris said. "It's the dream of every downhill racer to win here. When that dream comes true, it's beautiful." World downhill champion Erik Guay of Canada trailed Paris by 0.13 in second place, and Hannes Reichelt came 0.36 back in third to ensure there was an Austrian on the podium in one of the country's signature sports events. The crowd of about 50,000 people included Austria-born Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took a break from a promotional tour to watch the race in sunny conditions.
Andrej Sporn of Slovenia came fourth but was later disqualified for an irregular ski binding. Guay said his result was a nice build-up toward the Feb. 10 downhill race at the world championships in Schladming, Austria.
"I've never been on the podium here so second place is great," Guay said. "I am already starting to think toward Schladming. My goal obviously is to defend my title. It will be a tall order but I feel like my form line is coming into place."
The victory sent Paris top of the downhill standings with 317 points, closely followed by Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway with 314. Svindal, who won Friday's super-G, finished 9th and failed to overtake Marcel Hirscher atop the overall standings. The Austrian skipped the race and leads Svindal with 935 points to 876.
Svindal had to wait in the start gate as the previous racer, Peter Fill, crashed. The Italian went into the fences and made an ugly-looking back flip, but escaped unhurt. Later, Johan Clarey of France also avoided injury in a full-speed crash.
"(Waiting) is not ideal, it interferes with your rhythm up there," Svindal said. "But I have been around long enough to know how to handle that. I just didn't ski good enough. I had some mistakes on the bumps but my speed wasn't good enough anyway for a win today."
Following a punishment by the International Ski Federation, Innerhofer had to start the race in 46th position instead of his usual spot among the first 30. The Italian still clocked one of the fastest split times early in his run, but could not keep up the pace on the damaged course after 45 racers. He finished 20th, 1.92 behind Paris.
Innerhofer was fined for ignoring a yellow flag — a stop signal from the jury — during Thursday's final downhill training. "I am not looking for excuses," Innerhofer said. "I tried to do my best. I had a huge mistake at the Steilhang so I was missing speed of about 10 kph there."
Ted Ligety failed to finish after missing a gate, meaning the American is also out of the combined event, which will be made up of the total results of the downhill and Sunday's slalom. "It's a bummer as I was only 0.9 out on the last split so it was a really good position for the combined," said Ligety, who also missed out on scoring points after his ski came off in a combined event in Wengen, Switzerland, last week.
The American is third in the overall standings, 199 points behind Hirscher. "That's two weekends in a row where I could have been first or second," Ligety said. "It's really disappointing to have such opportunities missed. You can't expect to win the overall if you let opportunities like that go. It's really frustrating."
It was the first time since 2006 that the Kitzbuehel downhill was not won by a skier from Switzerland. Didier Cuche won the race four times in the past five years, but has retired. This time, Patrick Kueng became the highest ranked Swiss skier in 15th.